The Principal Investigator of the TELA maize project, Professor Rabiu Adamu has assured that Nigerian farmers will plant the highly anticipated Fall Armyworm resistant Tela Maize variety by June next.
He said Maize will be released as hybrids and will be marketed by licensed seed companies.
Professor Adamu said the dossier from the National performance trial of the transgenic maize variety will be submitted to the National Varietal Release Committee in next two months for the commercial release of the crop.
Speaking exclusively with Nigerian Tribune in Nairobi, Kenya at the African Conference on Agricultural Technologies (ACAT), Professor Adamu said that the new maize variety also has a 20 per cent yield increase compared to the conventional variety.
“We have made tremendous progress, nothing is holding us back, we just want to fulfil the regulatory requirements and we are at the last stage, by the end of December this year, possibly mid-January, we are going to submit our dossier to National Varietal Release Committee having met all the regulatory requirements for National Performance trial for them to evaluate and assent to the release of the transgenic maize hybrid for the first time in Nigeria.
“So, we are proposing to release at least two new high-yielding fall armyworm, stem borer tolerant maize hybrid for Nigeria, which is a great development because we don’t have any resistant variety in the country.
“This maize variety has proven to be resistant to pests and there will be some yield increases if you cultivate it compared to the non-resistant hybrids, that is the promise we are making. So in the next two months, there will be some great news for Nigerian farmers, hopefully, the farmers will have access to those seeds in May or June 2024.
“The conventional maize variety yield like 3.5 to 4 tons per hectare, while the Tela hybrid yield from 6.5 to 7 tons per hectare, so there is a difference of two tons which is twenty bags per hectare, that is a great yield advantage which is more than 20 per cent”, Professor Adamu said.
He said apart from insect resistance and high yielding, the TELA maize also reduces the cost of planting maize by cutting down the money spent on buying chemicals to control pests on the farm
The TELA maize Principal Investigator further noted that with the reduced toxic chemical use on the farm, the environment would be free from contamination.
“If your field is infested by fall Armyworm, you need to invest heavily in control measures, and one of the control measures the farmers rely on is highly toxic insecticides. By cultivating TELA maize, it will drastically reduce the use of pesticides on maize. That has a twin advantage of health and environment.
“But if you don’t spray chemicals, you have a clean crop by cultivating resistant maize variety, that is enough savings for the farmer; it will save the farmer money from buying pesticides and he doesn’t need to spray harmful chemicals on the environment which has health hazard”, he added.
Professor Adamu further added that there were efforts to engage more seed companies to assist in the seed multiplication of this new maize variety in order to ensure there is no shortage of seed.